How a Juice Company Founder Recovered from Heroin Overdose and Jail to Start an Empire
Khalil Rafati intentionally overdosed on heroin in 2001. The next year, he was shot at while using drugs. He suffered stints of homelessness and jail time. Finally, in 2003, Rafati says he “finally reached the bottom of all bottoms.”
“There was no more digging left to do; all of my shovels were broken. I was done,” he tells the New York Times.
Rafati, now the successful founder of SunLife Organics, a juice company in California frequented by Anthony Kiedis, David Duchovny and other celebrities, recounted his journey from drug addiction to success in his book, I Forgot to Die.
He started by founding a sober living house in Malibu in 2007, called Riviera Recovery. It was there that he crafted SunLife’s signature smoothie, the Wolverine — a date and banana blend with maca, bee pollen and royal jelly.
“It was meant to rejuvenate and strengthen the patients, and give them some much-needed strength,” Rafati says. “Lethargy in early sobriety is pretty brutal, especially if you’re coming off a long run with hard-core drugs.”
Using the knowledge he’d gained from eight years of recovery, he opened the first SunLife Organic in 2011, with the help of investors. Today, Rafati owns six locations across Southern California, and is known to welcome in fellow survivors of addiction.
RELATED VIDEO: Meet the Man Who Gives Recovering Addicts and Ex-cons Jobs at His Second Chance Bakery
The story of going from drug and alcohol addiction to juicing is a familiar one — Marcus Antebi, the founder of Juice Press, spent his teen years dealing with dependency before entering rehab at age 15.
Antebi, now 47, took up boxing once he got sober, and it was there that he learned about the power of juicing.
“I had to cut a dramatic amount of weight, and I noticed the older fighters would drink smoothies and juices. I felt like I found the fountain of youth,” he tells PEOPLE.
Now he’s dominating the juicing world, with over 50 Juice Press stores around the country.
“I’m making it accessible and fun and making it taste good,” Antebi says.